I hope it’s just me but I’m finding that the quest for great-quality original rpgs on the handhelds is a painstakingly hard one. By this point, I’ve lost count of how many times I finished a game with mixed feelings and realizing via research that it was either a port of a ten-year-old game or a remake. Granted, some of these ports like Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions and Final Fantasy IV Advance are really awesome especially considering the fact that I’ve never played the original versions but it still gives me that disappointed feeling. As soon as I get on the interwebs to talk about the game, I quickly find out that I also need to research how different this port/remake is from the original game it was based on. Regarding rpgs and handheld systems, it just feels like majority of the developers and publishers view it as a platform to carelessly and lazily recode something they’ve done years prior.
From a business perspective, I don’t really blame the publishers and developers for treating the handheld systems like this. Most gamers are much more focused on games on consoles that are hooked to the TV and so handheld software clearly doesn’t move as much units as a console counter-part. It’s probably logical to think that spending all that effort and risk into an handheld title wouldn’t yield enough profits for that effort to be worth it. Since well-known publishers like SqureEnix can just translate and enhance an already-established code and still make a lot of money off of it, they have all the more incentive to do ports or remakes and all the less to do something original and geared specifically for whatever handheld system they’re working on.
And in the past, there was also the limited hardware design of the system to consider, since even up to the point of Gameboy Advance, developers only had one d-pad, two face-buttons and two shoulder buttons to work with, not including the fact that the graphics capability of GBA was technically fairly weak. But then again, in this era of the technically impressive PSP and the potential-wielding DS, it’s frustrating to find that this quest for amazing yet original rpgs is still just as hard as before. I’ve already played through FFIV and although I know the DS remake is awesome, I would definitely give more attention to something new, something fresh, something I haven’t seen before.
Perhaps I’m telling things too early since in regards to the DS, valuable loot is finally starting to show up in this difficult quest. The World Ends with You came out of nowhere and pleasantly surprised everyone and it looks like we have a bright future ahead of us with the prospect of games like Blood of Bahamut, Dragon Quest IX, 7th Dragon, Sands of Destruction, Golden Sun DS… There’s still going to be flood of re-releases and remakes but just the fact that there will be more than just a handful of original has me excited.
RPGs can be truly amazing when designed specifically for the handhelds. Golden Sun and Golden Sun: Lost Age are such big names in this field because its originality and its quality simply had no comparable peer in the handheld realm and I would love to imagine how awesome many other handheld rpgs would turn out to be if there was this fervor to create original and full-scale rpgs for the handhelds not just by small-budget teams like Atlus but by bigger giants like SquareEnix, Sega, and maybe even entities like Capcom, Konami, or Sega.
I just love being able to play a little bit here and there of an amazing epic quest anywhere I go but I think I’m just growing real tired of playing through the same stories over and over again, stories and adventures that have been told too many times for too many years.